May 24, 2024

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Interview with Frederik Koster: The music has to have an emotional side … Video

Jazz interview with jazz trumpeter and vocalist Frederik Köster. An interview by email in writing. – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Frederik Köster: – I grew up in a very musical Environment. My father was a music teacher, big band leader, trumpet player, etc. and so music was all around me. I started playing the trumpet at the age of 9 and piano shortly after. First I was playing in the youth wind orchestra my father was conducting and I couple of years later I entered the school big band. Besides that I started writing songs on the piano and later on guitar. In my first own band at the age of 14 I played keyboards, sang and later also played guitar. It was a great place to work on my own compositions that were somewhere between Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Queen, Pink Floyd, Toto and Billy Joel and later Rage against the machine, Faith no more and the Beastie Boys so not yet Jazz. I was also playing trumpet along with Blood, Sweat & Tears and Earth, Wind & Fire records in my teenage years. Later when I was around 20 I got into jazz! It was a key moment listening to Freddie Hubbard’s solo on Herbie Hancock’s maiden voyage and changed my life completely now knowing what was able to do on trumpet! After that I knew what I wanted to do in my life!

JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

FK: – Actually I never thought about sound. When I started I was playing much too loud and my vocabulary was very limited. But with listening and playing much my sound was beginning to be more flexible, differenced. What helped a lot is playing with musicians that are better and more experienced than you. They make you sound good and you will learn from them!

JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

FK: – I have daily routine of etudes that cover a lot of tools I need for my playing like attack, slurs, endurance, upper register, flexibility etc. when that is done I’m working on repertoire, could be the learning or freshen up of jazz standards but mostly it’s working on the repertoire that is needed for my working bands. Then there is this thing called “Innovation” where I try to learn something that is new to me. Could be anything: learning scales like the symmetric ones by Oliver Messiean or scales from other cultures like the maqam when it comes to Arabic music; but also working with effects, could be acoustic like multiphonics, microtones, circular breathing or electronic like working with loops, kaos pad, delay etc. or could be practicing odd meters that are new to you in different groupings and sub divisions. So anything that is new to you!

JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

FK: – I try to get myself into the flow of music, try to be open and in the moment, wait for the right ideas to come out, not get into lick playing, wait for more good ideas, try to get sending and receiving balanced!

JBN: – Ism is culled from a variety of lives dates with various performers over the course of a few years. Did your sound evolve during that time? And how did you select the musicians who play on the album?

FK: – It has always been a pleasure to play the masters like Phil Woods, Randy Brecker, Trilok Gurtu, Albert Mangelsdorff etc. Talking to them, playing with them and listening to their stories first hand is priceless for me. Also realizing that they’re also human was a lesson for me. Playing in the live band of Indian drummer Trilok Gurtu changed my sound totally: When soloing or doing introductions I was relating more and more to the composition, focusing more on the melodic / rhythmic side, etc. for my own Band I wanted characters dealing with music and its forms and parameters in a very creative and impulsive way, each one with the ability to bring the music in a totally different direction without the need to talk about it.

JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

FK: – For me music has to have an emotional side that gives you goose bumps or makes your heart jump, also an intellectual side that feeds your brain and also something physical that makes your feet dance or your body move! It’s perfect for you to have a lot of possible ways what to play on certain things but to feel what’s the right decision for each moment makes it magic. Perfect if it all comes together and is balanced in a way.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?

FK: – In the first place the music has to please me. Not because I’m that egoistic but because that makes it authentic and if it’s authentic it’s worth giving it back to the audience.

JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

FK: – I had the privilege to do a project writing music for large symphony orchestra + my jazz quartet “die Verwandlung” and to do a few concerts. We also recorded it. The album is called “Homeward Bound Suite”. When we first started the rehearsals the two ensemble were miles apart from each other in any way: totally different ideas of sound, rhythm, dynamics, attack, time etc. the cello players ordered huge glass walls to put between themselves and the drum kit but then we rehearsed and played concerts for about a week and it got more and more together. The orchestra musicians began to talk to us jazz musicians, we were discussing our differences but also our common ground. It was fascinating to watch how things worked out in our last concert. Parts that seemed to never come together finally fitted perfect! It was amazing what you could achieve if you open up yourself!

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

FK: – I think it’s great to study the past, the tradition of the great American songbook, to know the jazz standards as they have been played in the past 90 years and to know about the history of your direct enviroment! But when we play gigs we play our music that also includes influences from alternatives rock music, dance music, hip hop / Trap, electronic music among other influences, so music young people can relate to so I doesn’t feel that it’s old fashioned at all!

JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?

FK: – All the major religions have some things in common: Be a good human being, treat others with respect, love your neighbor! Things like karma are so universal and logical: If you’re acting with care and are nice to others this will come back to you, if you don’t you will screw up so that’s basically it: Be nice, be positive!

JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

FK: – It would be nice if the people in general would be more open to music and anything that is new to them. I’m not talking about the audience that is already going to jazz concerts. Most of them are quite open. I mean the others. I feel a lot of the “I like what I know” mentality when talking to people who have prejudice. If you are open you could discover so many great new things and I’m not only talking about jazz – also theater, ballet, could be anything!

If there was another thing I could change it would be that all the streaming portals like spotify and co would make a better deal for the musician when it comes to the royalties!

JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

FK: – Lots of super different stuff: Louis Cole and Knower, Skrillex, Thundercat, but there is also some great Trap stuff, also Becca Stevens, Ambrose Akinmusire, I really like the YOtis Album by the swedich saxophone player Otis Sandjö, but I’m also discovering pretty old music like Shakti.

JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

FK: – Be open to everything that feels good!

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?

FK: – Definitely 1960’s – 70’s there was so many great music – no matter if it was jazz like Miles, Coltrane or Shorter but also Frank Zappa, Stevie Wonder, Queen, the old Genesis with Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell…

JBN: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…

FK: – Why we keep destroying our earth when we know better? Just because of Money and Power?

JBN – SS: – I think, because humanity has departed a lot from nature…

JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?

FK: – Just be in the moment and all you ever learned will come back when it’s needed!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Frederik Köster, Christian Ramond | JAZZ CLUB LOCH, Wupperta… | Flickr

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